In the race to get more landlord’s to their letting agency, UK online letting agent Upad recently stopped taking on new business, signalling an end to their operations.
With financial instability also plaguing online estate and letting agent Purple Bricks, it indicates a bump in the road to online letting agent supremacy. No doubt this is a win for traditional high street letting agents, with risk adverse landlords potentially being put off by this instability.
So what are the risks and behaviors not to exhibit to avoid the same fate as Upad fellow agents can learn from when trying to get more landlords? What pitfalls do over tech heavy firms need to avoid?
While there are no definitive answers, there are some major factors to stay on top of, especially while on an accelerated growth pattern.
It’s a no brainer, the number one selling point online letting agents have over traditional agents is their price.
Beating traditional agents is pretty easy due to the lower overheads but this isn’t where focus should be. The focus should be other online letting agents.
You’re probably thinking that this is basic stuff. But using Upads case study, their fee was about £400 more than rival OpenRent!
With low barriers to entry, the number of online letting agencies is growing year on year. When there’s more competition, margins and therefore prices are squeezed.
So keeping a vision of online letting agent fees is paramount. Mudhut are even offering free letting agent services for a period of time!
Landlord lead generators
Online marketing is where 90% of advertising budgets should be allocated to. For letting agents, this ensures a consistent pipeline of getting more landlords.
Getting more landlords to the letting agency should also be done via as many wide ranging avenues as possible, to stay ahead of the competition.
Listing on platforms such as Rent Round provide an alternative source of attracting landlords to your letting agency.
Rent Round enables landlords to compare letting agent fees just by typing a postcode. Landlords can then select an agent, who then receives their contact deals for a letting to be arranged.
Investment in the service, not the platform
Keep focus on the customer, in this case the landlord. With an online platform or letting agent website, it’s easy to become side tracked on making the site as fancy as possible and adding a host of features.
But there’s a balance to keep in mind. Are the extra features or fancy new design making it confusing for landlords? Attention spans of normal internet users are very low, but they’re even lower for busy landlords.
Did Upad become too invested in fancying up the platform, as a consequence reducing conversions of leads to landlords on their books?
“The Landlord” blog confirms our own impression of Upad, saying
I didn’t like their website at all, especially when they repackaged their products to the ‘uChoose’ product line; I found it so frustratingly confusing on many levels; it was difficult to know what they were actually trying to make us buy, mainly due to dire UX.
Employees in the UK
The UK workforce is expensive. Of course as a letting agent you will need a volume of experienced staff who know the ins and outs of the property industry.
But what about other key services and their location?
The big financial and tech companies, although having their flaws of inflexibility and bureaucracy, outsource to lower cost locations wherever possible. Deutsche Bank has operational hubs in Jacksonville, US and Birmingham, UK, moving away from New York and London hubs. Google service centers are based out of India.
Data entry analysts, accountants, social media management and web development are some very easily outsourced services. Upwork offers a wide variety of cost effective and highly rated free lancers.
Upad had staff of around 20 people in the UK. If you assumed they are all around the UK average salary of £25,000, that’s a whopping £500,000!
It’s a shame what has happened to Upad, one of the early online letting agent adopters in 2007. However whether you’re an online letting agent or traditional letting agent, there are lessons to be learnt when attempting to get more landlords and stay ahead of the competition.
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